Stop Striving. That was the message from God on a busy September morning. I had spent the last 6 months planning, preparing, away from home far too often and obsessing about balancing it all. In reality it had been far longer than 6 months, I had spent the last 40 years striving. My strengths finder test labeled me an “Achiever”. I strive for achievement. When people say to me “how do you do it all?” I am surprised that is their perception because I never feel like I’m doing enough. There is always more I feel I need to get done. I’ve always felt that way. In my twenties, I would stare at the walls of my studio apartment and ask myself over and over “what am I doing with my life?”. I’d call my best friend and lament “I haven’t done anything. I need to do something important for God with my life. I’m wasting time” to which she would always respond, “Chill out. Turn on the TV and relax”. Since then the world has gotten much more complicated. I have a family to take care of now, a church to take care of, a career to manage, a brother to take care of, sponsored children to take care of… and then there’s ISIS and all of the refugees to think about. I can’t do enough yet I have this burden inside me to do something. To do everything. So I strive.
Back to my message from God. I was driving to work, feeling overwhelmed by the upcoming workday when my Bible app alert went off with the verse of the day. “He says, “Stop your striving and recognize that I am God! I will be exalted over the nations! I will be exalted over the earth!” (Psalm 46:10) The verse struck me to my core. “I know Lord, I know. I know better”. As I drove, I prayed for peace and forgiveness for my control-freakish attitude and soon forgot all about the alert. The next morning during our “Jesus Calling” time, Luke began to read the daily devotional which in a nutshell said so many things compete for our attention, you are constantly bombarded but God has not changed since He first gave the command to “Be Still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) Then came the scripture verse for that day – again it was Psalm 46:10! “He says, “Stop your striving and recognize that I am God! I will be exalted over the nations! I will be exalted over the earth!”. I blurted out “God is speaking to me, Luke”. I explained how the same verse had been prompted to me the day before and it struck me the same way- reminding me to be still and know that God is God and I am not. Luke began to cry, “Why doesn’t God ever speak to me? He only speaks to you and Dad and I feel like he doesn’t like me anymore”. I wiped away the innocent little tears streaking down his cheeks and assured him of God’s love for him. Then I told him God speaks to all of us. We just aren’t always listening. Most of the time, God speaks to our hearts, not our ears. The best way to listen for Him is to get to know His voice and you can do that by reading the Bible. “But I used to wake up and read the Bible on my tablet and only read the red words so Jesus would speak to me and he wouldn’t”, he cried. I reminded him of how he had stopped reading his Bible on his tablet. “You need to keep reading and keep talking to God. Then listen for Him. Don’t be so preoccupied with video games and toys and friends that you drown out His voice. You have to “be still” in order to know that He is God. That’s why we have our Jesus Calling time, but God speaks to us in so many different ways. Sometimes through people, sometimes through books, even through movies and video games sometimes. We must always be prepared to listen for His voice”. Luke stopped crying and I reminded him of the time he had felt a prompting to go home from his friend’s house when there was a movie on that he shouldn’t have been watching and Luke obeyed that still small voice and came home. “That was God’s voice speaking to you. His Holy Spirit directing you in the way you should go. You heard Him that day, you just didn’t know it.” And just like that our quiet time was over and I realized that my message from God had a dual purpose- not only was He telling me to stop striving and reminding me to be still, Jesus was using that same message as a conduit for teaching my son to be still as well.